Monday, 6 January 2020 : Monday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the day after the Solemnity of the Epiphany, we are once again reminded of the presence of God in our midst as how He has revealed Himself before us, as the Light of salvation and as a new Hope for us all mankind because through Him, we have received the assurance of eternal life and glory with God if we remain faithful to Him.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of how the Lord Jesus went through the ministry that has been entrusted to Him, as He ministered to the people with illnesses and troubles, both the physical difficulties of the body and the troubles of the hearts and the minds. The Lord also cast out demons and evil spirits from the many people who were possessed, doing what seemed impossible before everyone so that they might see His truth.

The Lord showed the way of His truth, and all who follow Him are following the path of truth. And as we heard from our first reading today from the Epistle of St. John, the true path lies in the Lord alone, from Whom we have been guided away from the enemy, the devil and the false leaders out there trying to pull us away from the path towards God’s salvation. It is a reminder that there are those out there trying to mislead us into false paths away from God.

This is why St. John reminded the faithful that all of us must be cautious and test the inspirations of the spirits to make sure that they truly came from God and not from those wicked spirits and forces who tried to mislead us into destruction. But as long as we anchor ourselves on God and His truth, we will not fall into those temptations, and we will be strong despite the challenges and trials, the pressures and desire to follow a path that leads us away from God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in our world today there are just so many distractions present that caused many of us to turn away from the Lord and from His loving gaze. We embrace instead the devil and all those who worked against us for our annihilation, as they plotted against us and seeking to distort the truth by putting lies and temptations in our path, that many would be deceived and turned against God.

That is why as St. John has mentioned to us, we must be ready and be vigilant against the attacks of the evil one, who has relentlessly struck against us trying to prevent us from receiving and accepting God’s offer of mercy, forgiveness and healing which He had offered us through Christ, His Son. Certainly we do not want these plots against us to succeed, and that is why we are reminded today of these things arrayed against us.

How do we then resist the attacks and the temptations of evil? This is where we need to deepen our relationship with God, seeking Him and depending on Him to be our source of strength and our anchor in life. If we are alone and separated from God, we are weak and we will be truly vulnerable to the attacks of the devil and his allies. This is why he has always been so persistent in trying to distract us and to prevent us from being reconciled with God, as so long as we are separate from Him, the devil has a chance with us.

Instead, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all do our best to reconnect with God, to find Him just as we heard in our Gospel passage today, those countless people who came to seek the Lord to be healed from their sickness and maladies, those who wanted help and to be consoled, to be reconciled with God through His Son, Who cared for them and showed the love of God tenderly through all that He had done before them.

Are we able to seek the Lord with a new spirit of love and desire to be reunited with God? Are we able to make the sacrifices and put the effort necessary for us to oppose the wicked works of the devil and reject his many lies, and instead put our complete trust in God and His promise in loving us and in forgiving us our sins and shortcomings? Let us ponder on these for a moment, and think how in our lives beginning today, if we have not done so, to be once again faithful to God in all things.

May the Lord our loving God and Father continue to love us and bless us, and may He continue to guide us in our journey of faith and life, that we may eventually find our way to Him, and be reunited completely with Him and be worthy to receive the fullness of His glorious inheritance and love for us. Amen.

Monday, 6 January 2020 : Monday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 4 : 12-17, 23-25

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum, a town by the lake of Galilee, at the border of Zebulun and Naphtali.

In this way the word of the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled : Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, crossed by the Road of the Sea, and you who live beyond the Jordan, Galilee, land of pagans : The people who lived in darkness have seen a great Light; on those who live in the land of the shadow of death, a Light has shone.

From that time on, Jesus began to proclaim His message, “Change your ways : the kingdom of heaven is near.” Jesus went around all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and curing all kinds of sickness and disease among the people.

The news about Him spread through the whole of Syria, and the people brought all their sick to Him, and all those who suffered : the possessed, the deranged, the paralysed, and He healed them all. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Ten Cities, from Jerusalem, Judea and from across the Jordan.

Monday, 6 January 2020 : Monday after the Epiphany (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 2 : 7-8, 10-11

I will proclaim the decree of the Lord. He said to Me : “You are My Son. This day I have begotten You. Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, the ends of the earth for Your possession.”

Now therefore, learn wisdom, o kings; be warned, o rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and fall at His feet; lest He be angry and you perish when His anger suddenly flares. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Monday, 6 January 2020 : Monday after the Epiphany (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 3 : 22 – 1 John 4 : 6

Then whatever we ask we shall receive, since we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. His command is that we believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another, as He has commanded us. Whoever keeps His commands remains in God and God in him. It is by the Spirit God has given us that we know He lives in us.

My beloved, do not trust every inspiration. Test the spirits to see whether they come from God, because many false prophets are now in the world. How will you recognise the Spirit of God? Any spirit recognising Jesus as the Christ Who has taken our flesh is of God. But any spirit that does not recognise Jesus is not from God, it is the spirit of the antichrist. You have heard of his coming and even now he is in the world.

You, my dear children, are of God and you have already overcome these people, because the One Who is in you is more powerful than he who is in the world. They are of the world and the world inspires them and those of the world listen to them. We are of God and those who know God listen to us, but those who are not of God ignore us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error as well.

Monday, 2 February 2015 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day for Consecrated Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ, when our Lord Jesus Christ, the Firstborn Son of Mary, His mother, was presented to the Lord, as written and prescribed by the Law revealed through Moses. And in that presentation and consecration, the Lord was recognised by His faithful servants, Simeon and Anna, who had waited very long for the fulfillment of God’s promise to them, that they would see the Messiah and Lord.

Today we celebrate the day of prayer and celebration for all of those who have committed themselves to the Lord in a holy and devoted life, namely all of the religious men and women, who had joined the various orders designed to be the societies where those men and women can live their lives meaningfully and devotedly according to the ways and rules laid out for them, that they maintain their purity and worthiness before the Lord.

These holy men and women face difficult challenges, even more than all of us do. This is because they have consecrated themselves to the service of God, following in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Himself, who was presented as the Firstborn One at the Temple. Jesus is the Firstborn of all creations, the One begotten not created by the Father. He became Man so that as High Priest, He would offer the perfect sacrifice of Himself as the Lamb of sacrifice for the reparation of all our sins.

And so, the faithful religious and all those who have dedicated and given themselves to be consecrated to God, namely every single one of our priests, who have been taken from the world and as in our first reading today by the prophet Malachi had mentioned, they have been taken and molded in the Lord’s hands, to be made pure and holy, blameless and worthy, purified and refined, as if gold and silver, to be the ones to offer the same sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, the sacrifice of Calvary that liberated all of us from the thrall of sin and death.

Yes, while the priests of Israel of old, from the tribe of Levi offered the sacrifice of animals, the blood and the fats of lambs, calves, goats and turtledoves, and while they offered the goods and products of the land, for the sake of their own sins first and then for the sake of the sins of the people, that they may be forgiven. But this sacrifice is temporary, for no amount of animal blood and offerings may remove from us the enormous weight of our sins combined.

Jesus has been offered and consecrated to God, not because He was a sinner or having any form of sins or disobedience in Him. He was consecrated because just as the priests of Israel of old were consecrated, be made pure and ready to serve the Lord at His altar and offer the sacrifices for the sake of the people, then Christ Himself also offered the sacrifice, the greatest sacrifice of them all, that is the sacrifice of Himself on the cross for our sake.

And all of us have been saved by that sacrifice, where our Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself all of our sins, and as our Great High Priest, He offered the sacrifice for the reparation of all our sins, with exception of one difference, that this sacrifice no longer needs to be repeated again and again. It was because that sacrifice is the only one worthy enough to absolve all of our sins, past, present and future all at once. After all, who else is worthy beside the Lamb of God, the Divine Word of God who gave up all to save us?

And it was in the service of this Great One that all of our priests and the religious, all those who have consecrated themselves to be His servants, that they live this life of holiness, prayer and dedicated service to God. Jesus was consecrated to be an example to all of us, as the High Priest dedicated to God, that all of us who are called to serve, also follow in His footsteps and dedicate ourselves as well.

And different people have different roles and calling. But they all serve the one purpose, that is to bring mankind closer to God, their Lord and loving Father. It is to bring about the reconciliation between God and mankind that they are called for. And indeed, their responsibility and duty is not an easy one, for just as they themselves are tempted as we are tempted, we also like to refuse to follow and obey God’s commandments.

Therefore, their life is one of a constant battle and challenge, struggle against Satan and all of his forces, and they have to bear with all these with prayer, with patience and with dedication that requires our support and help. Our religious and priests need our help, for they are the ones who have consecrated themselves for our sake. And why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because they are the ones who stand as the vanguard in the battle for the sake of our souls, protecting and guiding us to the truth of Christ.

Let us also follow in their footsteps and model our words, actions and deeds on theirs and ultimately to follow in the footsteps of our Lord. May all of us be sanctified and be made holy through what we are doing in this life, and let us all shun all forms of sin and accept the fullness of Christ’s truth and love into our lives. Pray for each other, especially for all of our priests and all the religious brothers and sisters committing their lives to God. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 2 February 2015 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day for Consecrated Life (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 22-40

When the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord : ‘Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God.’ And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the Law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord.

So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law. Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

His father and mother wondered at what was said about the Child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, “Know this : your Son is a sign, a sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, and spoke of the Child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the Child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom : the grace of God was upon Him.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 2 : 22-32

When the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord : ‘Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God.’ And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the Law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord.

So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law. Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

Monday, 2 February 2015 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, World Day for Consecrated Life (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 2 : 14-18

And because all those children share one same nature of flesh and blood, Jesus likewise had to share this nature. This is why His death destroyed the one holding the power of death, that is the devil, and freed those who remained in bondage all their lifetime because of the fear of death.

Jesus came to take by the hand not the angels but the human race. So He had to be like His brothers and sisters in every respect, in order to be the High Priest faithful to God and merciful to them, a Priest able to ask pardon and atone for their sins. Having been tested through suffering, He is able to help those who are tested.